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Fate Core (RPG)

Fate Core

Fate Core

Here are a bunch of useful links if you are considering learning the role-playing game (RPG) called Fate Core by Evil Hat. Fate is a very narrative RPG that is setting neutral. As an RPG enthusiast for over 25 years and an aspiring writer, I find this system fascinating. I am thinking that all Game Masters (GM’s), players, and writers should give this a try. They make it really easy to give it a try by making it free to download from their website. See the links below. =O =)

Do you want a family of fish sitcom show with passive-aggressive and provoke as primary attack skills or multiverse-spanning epic empires with threats which endanger or speak for trillions of sentients at a time? Do you want to be street rats who survive in alleyways of a war-torn ghetto with aliens as your oppressors? Do you want to be middle-level heroes saving villages or cities from raids by the orcish blood messiah? Birthright anyone? Squad level anthropomorphic bunny mercenaries vs the vicious rabid squirrel invaders with shellshocked turtle fast-attack troops? In Fate the options are there to play these ideas or anything else in between.

FX’s Guides and Cheat Sheets

Here are the guides and cheat sheets I have put together as a way to help me synthesize the rules. If you have any more links, corrections, or suggestions then please let me know.

General Links

Videos

Social Networking

Other Forms and Cheat Sheets

Flash Fiction – “Callie, Morning Drama” (~ 1,030 words, modern)

Note: This is sort of a prequel to my first flash fiction attempt titled Flash Fiction – “Callie” (~ 700 words, medical modern).

Melanie stood there with her hands thrust angrily upon her hips as she looked up the dark wooden staircase and then yelled “Callie, unhealthy hurry up or you will be late for school. Conner’s principal is going to be really angry if he’s late again. Come on, child! It does not take that long to brush your teeth!

They were always waiting for their little Callie and it made everyone cross. They were not sure if Callie was just slow for a 9-year-old or doing it for the attention. Her husband, Jeff, even pondered the possibility that perhaps Callie was a budding Time Lord whose sense of time was different than everyone else’s. Her two other children, Connor, age 12, and Crystal, age 6, looked at her, their faces scrunched up in annoyance. Even Crystal was standing with her arms crossed because she would most likely miss play time and possibly even their morning snack time and, today, Conner could lose his place on the middle school football team if he was late to school… again.

Calliiie!!” Melanie yelled. She looked back to Conner and Crystal. “Conner, go help Crystal into her seat and wait for us in the car so we can leave as soon as she gets done.” Conner muttered “Ugghh” under his breath as he gave Crystal a little push toward the door to the garage. Crystal angrily shrugged his hand off her shoulder in a way that looked like a spasm. Looking back to him, she narrowed her eyes in an icy stare and then her pigtails jerked about as she stomped towards the garage. Shaking his head Conner could be heard grumbling “Uggh!” louder this time as he walked after Crystal, his red football helmet under his left arm. This was how it was every morning no matter how they tried to change things so that Callie (and the rest of the family) could be on time.

This seemingly irreparable morning drama had manifest as Callie has grown older, more independent, and responsible for her own routine. This morning drama set Melanie’s days wrong and made her cranky because she was usually late to work. Melanie has become her office’s ‘late person’ and she has never been that person, nor did she ever want to be. She has heard that her supervisor, Teri, who also has kids, gets to work on time, usually a 10 or so minutes early. ‘God, how different would things be if they never had Callie.’ she spitefully thought to herself. Her husband, Jeff, never had to deal with the morning drama because he had to leave an hour early to get to work, and he never understood why she was always so cranky when she got home.

Ok, Callie, you are going to have to take the bus home tonight, so mommy can make up the lost time from your teeth brushing time-warp.

Callie’s voice whined down “But Mom, I hate the bus. The older kids are mean to me.

Cross that Callie had the temerity to be upset with this, Melanie growled “Well, consider getting done on time in the morning and this would not have to happen. It is your choice, little girl! Let’s go!

Callie stomped down the stairs, her pale cheeks and ears were red and her lips were pursed in anger. Sternly Melanie said, “Get in the car!” After Callie ran out to the car Melanie stalked after her grumbling the whole time. She snapped up her phone so she could call their schools and her office to let them know that they were all going to be late… again.


Tired from a long day at work Melanie returned home after six o’clock. She walked in and saw Jeff cooking and Conner at the table working on his math homework. She sat her purse and briefcase down on the counter, hung up her coat, and then, unceremoniously plopped down into a chair at the table. Jeff started to speak “How’d…”.

Don’t ask!” she quickly cut him off. Connor looked up at his mom and then quickly looked back down. He could feel the tension and the stress in her, so he decided that now was not a good time to talk about his football practice problems.

She quietly asked “Crystal?

Just started a bath.

She could smell the garlic aroma from the sauce he was working on for spaghetti, Callie’s favorite. Still grumpy about this morning’s events she rolled her eyes, straightened up a little, and cleared her throat.

Callie in her room trying to avoid me?” There was a pause as Conner looked up and Jeff turned around, confused.

We thought you were picking her up as usual. I was expecting her to walk through the door after you.

Melanie’s eyes and mouth went wide and her mind started running. She stumbled out “I, I told her to take the bus home after school, because I was going to be at work late.” She stood up quickly, the chair slid away, groaning in protest against the wooden floor. Her heart pounded in fear as she quickly picked up the phone from the table and started to make a call. Jeff turned down the burners for the spaghetti and the sauce and then picked up his phone too. Jeff heard the fear in her voice and then, calmly, said to Conner “Conner, why don’t you finish your homework in your room, while mom and I make some calls.” Without making a noise Conner, not sure what this meant, picked up his books and quietly walked to his room.

They each made some calls to Callie’s friends, to the school, posted to Facebook, and then, finally, called the police. All they found out was that some of the kids saw her at the bus stop after school. Jeff pulled Melanie close as she started to sob, eyes red as tears streaked down her cheeks. He rocked her in his arms as she repeated through choked tears “Where’s our Callie, Jeff? Where’s our little girl?

Her phone rang. Jeff Answered. It was the FBI.

Looking for a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing

once upon a time...

once upon a time…

Ever since working on reworking a friend’s character history for Dungeons and Dragons in 2011 I have been working on learning how to write with what little time I have had available.

In the last year, mind I have been looking into going back to school for a Creative Writing degree. Specifically, sales I have been looking for places to where I can complete a BA online. I found one that interested me – Southern New Hampshire University. I have had my credits transferred and accepted, and had my classes picked out. Then I had to deal with the dreaded financing. I was hoping that the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program which starts in October of next year would get me there in a reasonable way, but it turns out that whatever my payment plans were for the last 10 years were not a payment plans that qualified for Loan Forgiveness so my 10 year timer will get start when I change the loans which will increase their monthly payment by almost $100. I was counting on this to have my loans paid off sooner than later to justify going back to school, but that was not to be, sadly.

Last week I met with a counselor at the UW Sauk Campus and talked with her. She said for most people who come to the campus with and existing Bachelors Degree that they look at going for a Masters Degree of some sort. She suggested a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA). I had been looking at the MFA while looking for an online degree program, but thought I should get to a BA first. It turns out that if you are accepted into a Masters Degree program in this way they will figure out which classes you need to meet the prerequisites for the degree program and then you will have to complete those before officially entering into the program. Basically, I would need to finish to the core BA courses for a Creative Writing degree. Now, unfortunately, the UW Baraboo Campus does not offer a Creative Writing Degree so that makes things much harder. I will be meeting with their Creative Writing instructor, who graduated from the prestigious Iowa University, in the next week or so to talk to her about things. I also found out that the Wisconsin GI Bill should cover at least 2 years of schooling as long as it is with a State of Wisconsin public university, so that is some good news, however, I had been checking for that specifically and I cannot find one that offers a Creative Writing degree online, although UW Madison does offer an MFA. Me sad panda. We shall see if anything comes of the next meeting.

If you are completely bored and are interested to read some of my subjectively better writings then here are a few examples that might be palatable for you:

I am a guest on Episode 8 of the Storium Arc Podcast!!

I am a member of the Storium Arc podcast team for the Storium game (@FreeXenon), read although I only help a little in the background mostly, generic but I had the wonderful chance to be a guest on the show last week as we were recording Episode 8, ascariasis in which we discuss character creation. I am in a game or two with one of the hosts named Justin (@Twisted_Gnome) and he thought that my view point as a player might be interesting for people to hear.

Now, this was my first time on podcast and I was really nervous about it. I spent time beforehand to write up a script that would cover the parts that I thought I knew I was going to have to speak on, but it never quite came out that way. I never ever looked at what I had written down, although it was fresh’ish in my mind. I felt like a hot, hot mess, so, as a method of some level of redemption, or at least to make myself feel better, I am posting my script here to translate my borderline incoherence below, also keep in mind I have posted links to everything  mentioned here at the bottom of this post.

My Introduction

Hello everyone, my name is Jim O’Neill and I go by Free Xenon on Storium,  and just about everywhere else on the web. That is Xenon with an ‘X’.

I have been playing role playing games for about 25 years starting with Dungeons and Dragons First Edition and then Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth editions. I have also played Alternity, a smidge of Rifts, Shadowrun, Marvel, GRUPS, Vampire, and then a bit of Star Wars, which is what my gaming group is playing now.

As far a writing is concerned, Role Playing Games were my primary gateway drug, and then blogging was a close second. In the years I have been playing RPGs there have been many, many character histories and narratives written, however in the last 5 or so years they have been getting more complex and larger, much to my DM’s chagrin.

My journey into writing really began after I was helping one of our players who was a high school student and son of one of the other players. I was working with him on his character history, since we were intertwining our histories. At one point he came to me with his character history and I was inspired by it so I rewrote it for him. It turned out to be 10k words long and I finished it in 3 days, so about 3.3k words per day. I was completely shocked when I saw that I had written 10k words. I began to ask myself if I could write a book and this was really the beginning to my serious look into writing. I have also participated in National Novel Writing Month 2 years ago (2013) with a Sci-Fi A-Team sort of thing. You can read my posts on this experience under the posts with the NaNoWriMo tag. I am currently, more off than on, attempting to work on a fantasy series.

I have also been blogging or had a website for about 15 years, so I have had a lot of experience just writing my thoughts out on the web covering mostly religion and politics.

I am current playing in 7 games, but all of them have hit that wall, where everything has slowed down a lot. Maybe one post per week or two. I generally prefer sci-fi and fantasy games.

So, yea, that is me in a nutshell, more nut than shell, that is. =)

Character Creation Process

  1. The Hunt
    • Hunt through the Browse Games Listing or, on occasion, I will look at the Looking for Players thread, until I find one that piques my interest
  2. Cardic Inspiration
    • Once I find one that I like I will click through to the character creation cards and see what they are about and see if there is something there that inspires me. If I do find some inspiration then I start will look at the cards more closely and start to assemble a potential character, personality, and history in my mind.
    • Here I also tend to spend some time reading the current characters too, to see where I can fit in or fill a hole.
    • Once I am done experiencing and selecting the cards and I have a character percolating in my mind, it is time to get serious.
  3. Character Creation Preparation in MS One Note
    • Now, if any of you out there have not used MS OneNote and you play RPGs or are a writer please go to download it, NOW. No, seriously stop, what you are doing right now, pause this seriously kickass  podcast, and go to download it. We’ll wait. tick tick tick tick
    • Ok, once I have OneNote open I create a copy my game template pages which contains (link below):
      • a page to copy the game description, a character submission template
      • character profile page
      • a section for writing my posts
      • as well as providing a space to record any research I need to do about the world. This space was especially important for a Mass Effect and Start Wars game I was in.
  4. Character Submission Template
    • In One Note I open the Character Submission template which is the page that I will post to the game’s character page,  and then I fill that out. (link below)
    • This has info like: my post times and time zone at the top; and then the character’s: name, gender, race, faction, height, weight, etc
    • Once I have that filled out then I will work on writing the character history
    • At some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a few too many characters due to not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind, which is really, really annoying.
    • Once the history and the rest of the template is done’ish and I have adjusted my cards as needed I will finally submit the character
  5. Character Profile
    • Once the Submission Template is done I go on to the last major step which is to fill out the Character Profile (link below). Now, I have posted my Character Profile to a Storium forum thread under the Player Advice Forum. This Character Profile is something I have put together from trying to put together a Character Profile for characters found in the fantasy series I am attempting to work on, but this is modified a bit just for Storium characters.
  6. Revisit the Character History and Cards
    • Once the Character Profile is done I will generally revisit the published Character History and the Cards to make any changes or corrections as needed based on revelations that the process of putting together the character profile has revealed.

Links

Images for Cards: at some point during this process sometimes during the Cardic Inspiriation of the Character Submission Template phase I start to look for images for my character, and for me, frankly, this is the hardest part of character creation – trying to find the image to reflects that character and the cards I have in my mind. I have honestly scrapped a character due ot not being able to find the right images to go along with the character and cards in my mind which is really, really annoying.

Flash Fiction – “Kin Slayer’s First Breath” (~ 680 words, fantasy)

Trigger Warning: rape, apoplexy murder, women, children, serial killer, prison, capital punishment

They sat there in the sterile white visitation room, a thick ceiling-to-floor glass wall separated them as a large red digital timer on the wall counted down from fifteen minutes, second-by second. The fluorescent ceiling light cast a sickly white light over both of them as one of the ballasts buzzed and was the only thing to break the cold silence. He looked at the floor. She could only hope that he could not look at her due to a deep soul wrenching shame that he felt for all that he had done to those innocent women and their families. Five minutes left and she was growing fearful and impatient that she would never get closure. She needed closure and so did her husband. They both deserved it. Who was she kidding? His victims and their families deserved closure from him more than she did.

The man finally grunted out his first heavily accented words to her in his harsh and gravelly voice:  “I’ve wronged many in dis life. I’ve done some tings. Some dat I regret. But, what has me sit’n here in dese chains isn’t one’o  dem.”  Her heart beat faster and faster as she resisted the overwhelming urge to flee when their eyes met for the first time.  His dark brown eyes started to peruse her toned feminine form like a predator before its meal. She was a mother of three that he never would have hesitated to pull into the back of a van to violate horribly while she would have screamed and screamed, and then leave her for dead along a highway somewhere, her eyes opened wide in terror and desperation staring off into eternity.

She saw it in his cold and remorseless eyes. She could feel it. She could feel all of the horrible things he was imagining he would do to her, which sent a shiver down her spine. Melanie shifted uncomfortably in her chair as he carnally undressed and assaulted her with his eyes.  Her hands felt cold and clammy, and were white from gripping her seat tightly when she knew he was thinking of where he would have left her violated body for the crows. She had never felt so dirty and worthless in all her life, like a piece of unwanted and infected meat, and she wanted to run out of that cold room, but she stayed.

Every night since she braved looking at the numerous reports and bloody pictures two weeks ago that recounted the bloody end of his victims – soccer moms, college students, goth girls, a construction worker, an exotic dancer, and even a nun – she has bolted upright in a cold sweat each night screaming after reliving the bloody deaths of his victims in her dreams.  The news clippings read to her like they had been taken straight from a horror movie. They left her speechless. She did not understand him or anything he had done, least of all why he would kill another serial killer so brutally, smashing in his skull until there was nothing but as crimson paste remaining. She just wanted to know why. Why he did it?

She pulled her eyes away from his carnal gaze, cleared her throat and then weakly said, almost whispering “After raping and murdering thirty-three innocent women over the last ten years, why did you let yourself get caught? Why did you kill him?

Did you do it for what he did to my little Callie?“.

Just saying the words gave her a small sense of closure, for she had come here and was brave enough to say those words, and he heard them, which was more than many whose families suffered such horrible fates received.

She felt it when he looked down to the ground again, his stare was palpable, had a powerful and filthy predatory weight to it. He grunted.“Wimmin folk can struggle’n fight. Chil’en can’t. Met him on a street and we wuz talk’n. Told me what he’d done. Was dead ‘fore he could finish speak’n ‘er name.” He grunted again. Tears streamed down her face leaving black trails on her cheeks as the guard walked in and escorted him to the last few moments of his life.
As the king’s honor guard roughly dragged Tradion out of his lightless dungeon cell by his heavy black iron chains, sickness
his left cheek bled profusely and he limped from the horrendous beating the guards had just delivered him for having the temerity to ask for water. They were once his friends and comrades-at-arms, as was the now deceased Prince, for whom he was accused of murdering. It started three days ago with bystanders yelling, screaming, and pointing at him with his blood-soaked blade and the Crowned Price lying dead at his feet in a pool of blood. He did not know how it all happened and now he is being led to the market for a public hanging.

The black hooded hangman bore the stench of unwashed peasantry and spilled cheap ale as he roughly dragged Tradion up to the noose in the center of the market before a whole crowd of people – beggars, nobles, peasants, soldiers, and slaves, his manacles cut into his wrist and drew some blood which dripped slowly to the wooden platform. People came from miles around to watch his hanging, the hanging of the man who killed the Crown Prince. The Chamberlain read the charges against him before he was to be hanged until dead. Tradion was strangely at peace with what was about to befall and he did not know why. He said a quick prayer to the gods above and then to his cousin the Crown Prince, and then waited for inevitable.

They fitted the noose around his head and pulled it tight around his neck. He looked around, not sure if this was even real, and then the floor dropped out from under him, the noose snapped tight and the pressure on his neck was unbearable, his eyes bulged as he struggled to breathe. His legs shook for a few moments and then he exhaled for the last time as the last sound he heard was the loud crack of his neck. The crowd yelled and screamed rejoicing that justice was victorious this day.

On a hill overlooking the market area were two hooded individuals who had watched the death of the traitorous dog, Tradion.  The much larger of the two men abruptly arched his back and took in a deep mechanical sounding breath, and then his head snapped from side to side like he was confused or panicked, or looking for something that was about to attack him. The other man pulled up his hood a bit revealing the concerned face of the Crown Prince. He wove his staff through the air forming arcane runs and then looked cautiously to his large panicking companion.

After a moment the Prince said “Will you ever forgive me, Tradion.” The Prince’s companion, fully a head larger and with the broad shoulders of a soldier, pulled up his hood with hands that bore metal plates and some bronze colored rotating gears. The Crowned Prince looked upon face made of a steel plate mimicking Tradion’s face, the dull glint of colored gears could be seen peeking out from underneath the sides of the faceplate which ended  at the line following the cheekbones down to the chin. A quiet mechanical whirring could be heard emanating from within his new mechanical form.

A gruff and mechanical voice answered “Next time you will be the one to die, Cuz.” Tradion shook his head and snorted, and then lifted and flexed his arms trying to get used to how this new mechanical body felt.

The King and Queen would never let me nor any of our knights undertake such a mission, so it is up to us my brother. We will need you at your best for the battle to come, for the Lords of Dathnar do not sleep.”  The Prince smiled, for Tradion was still in there… somewhere. His cousin’ spirit was tethered to this mechanical shell by the powerful magics he himself had forged over many long months of research and toil. They both reared their horses and galloped full speed due north toward the Dathnari Mountains where destiny waited.

Flash Fiction: “Callie” (~ 700 words, modern)

Trigger Warning: rape, purchase murder, visit this site women, discount children, serial killer, prison, capital punishment

They sat there in the sterile white visitation room, a thick ceiling-to-floor glass wall separated them as a large red digital timer on the wall counted down from fifteen minutes, second-by-second. The fluorescent ceiling light cast a sickly white light over both of them as one of the ballasts buzzed and was the only thing to break the cold silence. He looked at the floor. She could only hope that he could not look at her due to a deep soul wrenching shame that he felt for all that he had done to those innocent women and their families. Five minutes left and she was growing fearful and impatient that she would never get closure. She needed closure and so did her husband. They both deserved it. Who was she kidding? His victims and their families deserved closure from him more than she did.

The man finally grunted out his first heavily accented words to her in his harsh and gravelly voice:  “I’ve wronged many in dis life. I’ve done some tings. Some dat I regret. But, what has me sit’n here in dese chains isn’t one’o  dem.”  Her heart beat faster and faster as she resisted the overwhelming urge to flee when their eyes met for the first time.  His dark brown eyes started to peruse her toned feminine form like a predator before its meal. She was a mother of three that he never would have hesitated to pull into the back of a van to violate horribly while she would have screamed and screamed, and then leave her for dead along a highway somewhere, her eyes opened wide in terror and desperation staring off into eternity.

She saw it in his cold and remorseless eyes. She could feel it. She could feel all of the horrible things he was imagining he would do to her, which sent a shiver down her spine. Melanie shifted uncomfortably in her chair as he carnally undressed and assaulted her with his eyes.  Her hands felt cold and clammy, and were white from gripping her seat tightly when she knew he was thinking of where he would have left her violated body for the crows. She had never felt so dirty and worthless in all her life, like a piece of unwanted and infected meat, and she wanted to run out of that cold room, but she stayed.

Every night since she braved looking at the numerous reports and bloody pictures two weeks ago that recounted the bloody end of his victims – soccer moms, college students, goth girls, a construction worker, an exotic dancer, and even a nun – she has bolted upright in a cold sweat each night screaming after reliving the bloody deaths of his victims in her dreams.  The news clippings read to her like they had been taken straight from a horror movie. They left her speechless. She did not understand him or anything he had done, least of all why he would kill another serial killer so brutally, smashing in his skull until there was nothing but a crimson paste remaining. She just wanted to know why. Why he did it?

She pulled her eyes away from his carnal gaze, cleared her throat and then weakly said, almost whispering “After raping and murdering thirty-three innocent women over the last ten years, why did you let yourself get caught? Why did you kill him?

Did you do it for what he did to my little Callie?“.

Just saying the words gave her a small sense of closure, for she had come here and was brave enough to say those words, and he heard them, which was more than many whose families suffered such horrible fates received. She felt it when he looked down to the ground again, his stare was palpable, had a powerful and filthy predatory weight to it.

He grunted.“Wimmin folk can struggle’n fight. Chil’en can’t. Met him on a street and we wuz talk’n. Told me what he’d done. Was dead ‘fore he could finish speak’n ‘er name.” He grunted again. Tears streamed down leaving black trails on her cheeks as the guard walked in and escorted him to the last few moments of his life.

What is Flash Fiction?

So, urticaria in 2006 when I was just starting to get into politics and religion I took the Political Compass quiz to find out where I stood and I blogged about it, since it was also news to me. I found myself, where the x and y axis met, just to the left and down. Keep in mind I have no idea what that meant, not that I do now, but then I was just getting into the religious, political and electoral worlds which I never ever cared about before then.

Now, 9 years later, and having become active during California’s Proposition 8 trials in challenging right-wing nut-jobs, writing activist articles for my blog, joining a UU church, voting, joining the Green Party, and reading everything from evolutionary psychology and biology, Revolutionary War history, philosophy, theology, Christian history and theology, Near Eastern Archaeology, divine feminine studies, linguistics, and having joined the micronation of the Republic of Talossa, my views have changed quite a bit. I find myself quite a bit away from my uninformed self. Once you start to really care about justice and how the government treats others how you think about the world really changes.

2015 Political Compass Results [economic left: -7.8,Social Libertarian -5.23]

2015 Political Compass Results

Read More:

According to this short quiz my Political Leanings are Centrist. I have never heard of this until now. I have typically put myself on the side of Libertarians, epidemic
but this might be the closest label to my political leanings. We will see. I have to do more research on this to make sure.

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction does not have a really hard or fast definition. It really just depends on who is talking and how they want to specifically define it. In general, otolaryngologist
 Flash Fiction is a story with a beginning, middle and end to it and is anywhere from 300 to 1000 words. Writers often try their hand at flash fiction as a challenge or for practice. There is even a national Flash Fiction Writing Day in Great Britain.

What is Flash Fiction

Places to Read Flash Fiction

The First Three Weeks Since Tanya and Uliana are in Belarus

I am writing this post during my fourth week alone, drugs and my first week back to work, so this will be all from memory, and not completely correct, but it will be close enough for government work. I was planning on doing a week by week post, since I expected to be really busy, but that sorta did not happen. My time was pretty much was laced with laziness.

The First Night

The very moment I finished work @ 4:30pm the day after I dropped Tanya and Uliana off  (Tuesday) was strange. I was free with nothing to that I had do, no child to babysit, no yoga class to take, no plans at all, just the emptiness of the night with nothing at all on the agenda, and no one calling for my attention. It was really strange. It has been a long time since I have had moments like that, especially for such a long stretch. Having a child changes things a little bit. =) It felt kind like getting out of basic training in the Navy for the first time, going from where your every minute is scheduled and demands are made of your time and attention, and then nothing. My mind really had no clue what the hell I should be doing. It was expecting to be expecting to be expected to have something to do. Twas strange for me to process. I slowly walked home from work taking my time thinking about all of the things I could do, and then I just went home to prepare for the coming time alone. The first night sleeping alone was a little strange too. I am sorta used to having Tanya there, and not having her there made it hard to sleep. =) =( I miss my Ribchik!!

Week One

The first week  I spent some time cooking, shopping, and doing laundry, as well as doing just a little bit of yoga in the evenings, not so much though. I joined the free trial of Redbox and started to watch some movies, as well as watched some shows of mine that were DVR’ed. I did not really do any reading, sadly enough. This first week had me staying up late, like until 11:00 to 12:00am. Much later than I like. On Wednesday I went down to the game shop to chill with the guys. There is usually a Bolt Action Game going on. Bolt Action is a World War II minis game. I think I also went down on Saturday too to check out the gaming goodness.

Weeks Two and Three (Vacation)

Things pick up a bit during these two weeks in which I was on vacation, and I did not accomplish everything that I was hoping to. Things were more laid back than I was planning. The complete lack of routine totally threw me for a loop. I work much better when I have a rigid routine in place and then I can fit things in as needed.

These first weeks of vacation had me staying up late, like until 12:00am to 1:00am in the morning watching movies on Redbox. I usually woke up late which is like 9:00am or so. I would get up, drink my honey-lemon-cinnamon water, take care of email and Facebook, do my yoga, and then shower. I would finish all of this around 12:00 to 1:00pm, and then I would eat breakfast which would usually start with a protein bar. Once all of that was done I would get on with my day.

Reading Books

I was originally planning on reading my Constitution Law book which I bought for my birthday in 2009 and spent a week of vacation reading it. During that week I read ~583 pages. If you get really bored you can read about that in those posts tagged Constitutional Law: Pricipals and Policies. However, since I really wanted to start at the beginning to read the 1300 pages straight through, preferably in a week, but most likely 2, I chickened out. Before your judgemental bastards judge me keep in mind that this is not like 1300 pages of Lord of the Rings, novel sized pages. These are 1300 pages of college text book sized dense law reading. =P

Below are the few things that I read instead:

First, I finished reading the the following 2 books which were already about 60% read:

God and the Gay Christian: This was perhaps the best book I have read on this topic. I have read a few and this is the first one that was really convincing and really gets it right. This is perhaps one of the most important books of the year.

Mary Magdalene: This is the second book on this topic that I have read and I really enjoyed it. Well researched and it really brought me a better understanding of the ways that Mary was and is understood and what it really means today. Good stuff.

Then I moved on to reading new books. You will notice a sort of a trend in the topics here:

Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG): I had picked this up the previous week and had taken a look at it. This week I spent some time going through the yoga routine in there. I recognized pretty much all of the poses in it so there were no surprises there. The forward for the book was written by Rob Zombie which was neat to see. The book was written in a laid back style for men, a bit sexist, but meant in fun, sorta like a professional wrestler wrote it. =O

So You Want to Open a Yoga Studio: This was a small but awesome book. It covered how and why to open up a studio plus what to look for in a space and so much more. If I were looking into opening up a new studio, this book would be a really great place to start.

Light on Law for Yoga Studios: This was written by the guy who is the legal counsel for Yoga Journal, I think. He is also a lawyer and a yoga teacher too, so this book is chocked full of great advice, thoughts, and actual legal forms you  can use to create your own forms. I will have to take a look at my own studio forms and change things around with the info from this book. I wish I had this when we started our studio and I put together our forms and waivers.

The Yogi Entrepreneur: This was a great book on running a studio from everything from choosing a teacher training program, finding work to social media management. A lot of great advice in there.

Yoga

I did yoga almost everyday. My sessions were anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, though I tended to average about 30 minutes. Loving it.

Gaming

I had Charles over and we played some of the following games which are featured on Will Wheaton’s Table Top series:

I also made it over to the game shop and played some:

I will send a shout out to Brian, who has always been kind to me. He has always played mini based games and he always had an army for me (and others) to play. He bought a Russian army for me and I was able to play it for the first time the last Saturday of vacation. He also has plenty of ships to go around for me to play Star Wars:X-Wing too… go Imperials!!

Strangely enough, especially since I am tactically challenged, I won most of the games. Perhaps their is something magical about vacations? Hmmm…. =)

We also had our bi-weekly Star Wars: Edge of Empire Role Playing Game game too, which went well, and Brian also GM’s that and has been our dedicated and tireless GM for 15 years. You go dude! … and thanks!!

Week Four – At Work

With the start of a new week and starting work, I did some cooking and laundry too. It was not too bad getting back to work since I stopped in on both Sundays to clean out my mailbox and see if anything needed to be done.

DDP Yoga

So, I purchased the DVD Max Pack for DDP Yoga and started it Thursday of last week and have done it everyday so far, except for Sunday. It is pretty intense, and I am definitely sweating when I am done. I am looking forward to continuing this practice to help lean me up and lose some weight.  Now that I am back to work I am getting up at 6:00am so I can get my Yoga in before I go to work which will also charge up my metabolism too. It is going pretty well so far and I am going to bed at around 10:00pm too, which is right about where I want to. It is only 2 days in, but things are going well. For more info on DDP Yoga and why I choose it see my next post.

Tonight I will go to Marley’s and then go to see Godzilla.

Next week I pick up Tanya and Uliana on Friday night, and then, thankfully, everything will be back to normal.

I think I have rambled enough for one post.

“Choose to Bless the World” by Rebecca Parker of Starr King UU Seminary

This is a wonderful poem that I heard read at our congregation at the Free Congregation of Sauk County, infection and it touched me enough to post it. It is written by Rebecca Parker, viagra 60mg a Methodist/Unitarian Universalist minister, who attended famous UU seminary the Starr King Seminary.

Choose to Bless the World by Rebecca Parker

Your gifts—whatever you discover them to be—

can be used to bless or curse the world

The mind’s power,
The strength of the hands,
The reaches of the heart,
The gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting

Any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
Bind up wounds,
Welcome the stranger,
Praise what is sacred,
Do the work of justice
Or offer love.

Any of these can draw down the prison door,
Hoard bread,
Abandon the poor,

Obscure what is holy,
Comply with injustice
Or withhold love.

You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?

Choose to bless the world.

The choice to bless the world is more than an act of will,
A moving forward into the world
With the Intention to do good.
It is an act of recognition, a confession of surprise, a grateful acknowledgment
That in the midst of a broken world
Unspeakable beauty, grace and mystery abide.

There is an embrace of kindness that encompasses all life, even yours.

And while there is injustice, anesthetization, or evil
There moves
A holy disturbance,
A benevolent rage,
A revolutionary love,
Protesting, urging, insisting
That which is sacred will not be defiled.

Those who bless the world live their life as a gesture of thanks
For this beauty
And this rage.

The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
To search for the sources of power and grace;
Native wisdom, healing, and liberation.

More, the choice will draw you into community,
The endeavor shared,
The heritage passed on,
The companionship of struggle,
The importance of keeping faith,
The life of ritual and praise,
The comfort of human friendship,
The company of earth
The chorus of life welcoming you.

None of us alone can save the world.

Together—that is another possibility waiting.

Rebecca Parker

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Angel of Death (Narrative for Kulae Ordo, Star Wars)

Introduction

This was written as a post-session narrative for a Star Wars: Edge of Empire game. This was the first time in gaming that an in-game event really affected me and would have deeply affected my character too. Our rag-tag group of fringers, visit web which had been basically annoying the Empire off and on between shipping jobs, had been basically forced by the Imperial Service Bureau agent, Captain Lynch, who was our long-time nemesis, to do some dirty work for him. We needed to kill this senator on Corusant. We programmed maintenance droids to roll up and then detonate under his landing pad when he arrived. (Yes, our Star Wars games tend to have a rather strong grey or dark streak to them. In war, desperate times call for desperate measures. =O ) When the droids should have detonated and destroyed the just his landing pad what happened instead was the entire tower came down and the news reported something like 45,000 dead. Our Dungeon Master (DM) did not tell us until the next week Captain Lynch’s response. This narrative was almost complete by the time our DM sent us the Captain’s message, which gave allowed me to modify it with the new news. I was going to space my character and start a new one. My character’s was Kulae Ordo – a human female roguish hacker running from an arranged marriage on her planet and who had an uncle she looked up to that was in the rebellion. She only wanted to stick it to the Empire and make her supposedly dead uncle proud. I won’t go over all of the characters or previous crazy events that led to this moment, but I will say that Jake was a droid character whose history was intertwined with hers and they were very good friends. This moment also allowed Jake to do some programming/skills changes too.

Narrative

Destruction of the High Rise (Day 1)

Kulae sat there peering through the rental car’s window, mouth agape and eyes wide, abject surprise and confusion ripping through her mind as she felt the rumble and crumbling of the high rise building even from all of the way up here. The brilliant flash of orange and yellow flames of the explosion bathed the inside of their rental car in angry light as they hovered above, hidden in the crowded traffic of the skyways of Coruscant. They could see the Senator’s three-floor penthouse quite a ways below them, as the entire building started to list slowly in the direction of the explosion. She could not believe what she saw. A terrible knot roiled in the pit of her stomach. Her face drained of color taking on a chalky pallor. She felt as if she might faint. Fear and shame replaced the confusion as it finally set in what was happening. She just knew that dark circles formed around her eyes as her soul died in that moment. Her shoulders began to slump and her head sagged as she was only able to find enough strength to keep her head from lolling around like a doll as the car moved slowly through sky traffic.

She could not even look at her companions, her co-conspirators in this horrible tragedy, this unplanned act of domestic terrorism. How did it all go wrong? She programmed the droid properly, Jake and Victor set up the droid with explosives properly, and she sent in the trouble tickets with the correct password, and even pre-assigned that specific droid to that task and time so that it could be there to detonate and kill Senator Alex Bishop of the Fenris System when he returned home in the evening and landed on his apartment’s personal landing pad. And it all went wrong. Somehow they used too much of the explosives. Somehow the maintenance droid ended up many floors below. It did not make any sense. They planned it as perfectly as they could. There should have been a warning of some sort. She could not believe it all. Her eyes were beginning to redden as tears began to form, and the world started to spin. She leaned back resting her head against the seat and closed her eyes, but the spinning refused to abate.

She did not understand how they all came to this. Were they all so lost that they were taking hit jobs … for the Empire? Has her zeal to support the rebellion and bring down the tyrannous Empire brought them to this dark place? Was this her fault? Did she screw up the programming? Has she failed and shamed herself and her uncle? She just knew that if there was a heaven that he was feeling the most shame that he had ever felt. Kulae lurched forward and puked all over the seat in front of her as this thought washed over her. She could not take it anymore. It was hard to think with her stomach a rabid, angry and knotted pit. She could swear she heard the masses of people scream as they plummeted to their deaths – the children, the teenagers, the mothers, the fathers… the innocent masses caught up in a covert war of ideals of freedom. The thought of her uncle being ashamed of her was the last haunting thought she had before she passed out. They all traveled in stunned silence all the way back to the docking bay. No eye contact was made by anyone. Not a word was said. None of them could believe it either. They all felt responsible.

Arriving at the Ship (Day 1)

She was not sure how she arrived into the ship or even came to her bed. She thought that she walked for some of the way, but she was just guessing. Perhaps Jake, her constant friend and companion, carried her. Yea, that is most likely what happened. Jake, her heavy metal shadow of comfort and protection. She felt ashamed that everyone saw her like this. Not only has she disappointed her uncle in the most horrible way imaginable, now the group has seen her shame too. Perhaps they believed that she is the one who screwed up? It definitely appeared that she felt that way. They must think that she was guilty. How can she ever face them again? As she laid face up in her bed, the world spun and spun, tears wet the side of her face in a salty wash. She could not answer those questions. Her stomach churned even more at the thought of the shame her friends felt toward her. She let them all down too. She let Jake down. The tears streamed down hard as her body lurched up and down sobbing.

After a while, when the tears stopped flowing, she sat up slowly, wiped the tears from her red and puffy eyes, and then feebly walked over to the door, step by step, each one a concentrated effort to not fall over at any moment. She locked the door to her room and slowly shuffled herself back to the bed, slow step by slow step, and then laid down again. After a few moments of resting on the bed, the world began to spin even more, like she was in an out-of-control carnival ride, spinning a death spiral down to the hells to which she will most likely end up. After a while, she decided that the spinning was not going to end. Carefully she rolled over and slid down from the bed to sit on the floor with her back against the side of the bed. She had to pause for a few moments to try to slow down the world and its angry desire to throw her against the walls or the ceiling. She dragged herself along the floor on her hands and knees, carefully trying to keep herself from falling face-first into the floor, salty tears again trickling slowly and dripping to the floor leaving a wet trail of shame. After long and slow moments Kulae eventually made her way into cool confines of the bathroom .

She concentrated hard to get her hand onto the toilet seat and then pulled it up. She thrust her head up over the cold rim while holding on with both hands, and then her body convulsed as she vomited. So many innocent people died because she screwed up. Her body convulsed a few more times as she puked into the toilet which now smelled horrible. Her body then convulsed in dry heaves as she tried to throw up again, as if she could vomit out the shame, guilt, and horror of what happened, but nothing would come out. He mouth was dry and tasted acrid and nasty, but she did not care. This must be what guilt and shame tasted like she dryly mused. She suffered in ways that she ever thought possible. This is more than all of those thousands of innocent people would ever experience again. She pulled herself down to the floor to rest a moment. Before she knew it she fell asleep right there on the cold bathroom floor.

The First Three Days (days 2-4)

She never left the confines of her room that first day. Despair and shame were her only companions, bitter reminders of what happened. She did not answer the door for anyone, not even Jake. How could she look him in the eyes again. The deaths of all of those innocent people was her fault. She could not bare these thoughts and truths any longer. She never really thought she would really truly understand the word despair, but she did now. Now she understood and it was the most horrible thing she has ever experienced. The holofeed said 45,000 died in the collapse of the high rise, whose explosion was attributed to a gas leak of some sort. The heavy weight of the names and faces of the dead floated around in her mind as she watched the vigil channel set up in memory of the dead. She saw the faces and heard their stories, and heard the sobbing and saw the tears of those who mourned the death of their loved ones. 45,000 people died and their friends and family will never see them again. They will never laugh or cry, smile or frown again and it is because of her.

The ghostly faces with names, the shame, the fear, and her guilt drenching and tormenting her soul. It was too much to bear. The failure…HER failure lead to the death of all of those innocent people, and nothing that she could ever do would be able to make up for that. Her mind raced with ideas and thoughts on how she could make up for what had happened. All of the thoughts from cloning to destroying both the Empire and the Rebellion to make sure that this sort of work would not need to be done raced through her mind. It was all so hopeless. She was powerless to do anything in her lifetime to heal these wounds, to bring back the dead, to make amends, to make up for what she did wrong. Hopelessness and despair saturated every fiber of her being. For a whole day she just sat there numb and despondent. Barely a mortal shell, empty of sentience. There was no hope, no commiseration, only the infinite emptiness of despair and hopelessness.

Kulae shook her head slowly, her face was dry with barely seeable streaks marking the passage of her tears. Her ducts were so worn that tears could not come no matter how much she wanted to cry and scream at the world. He body was spent, dehydrated, for she had barely eaten or drank anything over these few days. She would not accept anything from the companions who she unforgivably failed. She did not deserve it for what she had done. This should be the least of her punishment. There is no way to repair the damage, no way to fix things, no hope at all of releasing this burden from her consuming her soul. Her companions would be safer and the world a better place without her and then she would not have to live with the unbearable shame and guilt of the multitudes of the dead that fell eternally silent by her hand.

A finality and calm set in as that last thought filtered through her mind which had a sobering and calming effect on her. The decision was made. This was the end. The only justice that the dead could have and accept would be her own life for theirs and it would be dealt by her own hand, which seemed fitting for Kulae, an angel of death. At least the high rise people died together and suffered a collective fate. She would die alone in the dark and cold depths of space where there is no heaven, no hell, just a vast and lonely emptiness devoid of anything. Her punishment shall be an eternity of death in the icy cold solitude of space. She shook her head acknowledging that this is the only way. This is what will be done. This will make everything right again.

The Last Three Days (days 5-7)

The night before she slept an hour or two. Knowing what was going to lay ahead and that justice was going to be served allowed her to sleep a little. She cleared her mind, drank some water, and summoned Jake to bring her some food, and then promptly sent him away telling him that she will be ready in two or three days to come out for good, but she needed more time to grieve. Her hands trembled partially from fear and partially from being so very hungry. She ate slowly as she pulled forth her data pad and her slicer box, connected them, and then pulled up a special program that she had been working on for most of the years that she had known Jake. He had been her constant companion and she wanted to she give him something in thanks for his years of friendship and dedication, and for saving her life so many times. She has never forgotten that fateful day that she received that holorecorder that told of her family’s death, and then Jake, who she did know at the time, saved her from some ISB agents and escorted her onto the ship leaving the planet. And now he has taken her again in his cold arms and saved her from Coruscant. She had always wanted a way to show him how thankful she was for him, to give him a piece of herself in a true, deep, and soul-felt way.

She spent the day in a space of clarity that she had never known. The code just ran and ran from her mind and down her fingers into elegant lines and forms that were like poetry that came directly from the depths of her soul. Kulae had never programmed a computer so cleanly and efficiently in all her life. This was to be her finest work, and, hopefully, she would not screw this up. Jake did not deserve that. None of them deserved that. None of them. She barely slept at all, only sleeping when her body reached the limits of its endurance where she fell unconscious at the keyboard only to wake up 2 – 3 hours later with an imprint of the keyboard on her face. She would just rub her face, drink some water, and then continue with her work. She needed to get this done so that even with all of the horror and death that her hand has wrought that she could end it all with some form of peace, dignity, and some good could have been left in wake of her death. Two full days passed and the first and most important part was done. Her real gift to Jake.

The last 2 parts would come quicker, much quicker since they were much more straight forward. She pounded out the code one line at a time and did not stop. She winced through the pain which lanced through her hands and shoulders as she worked at a feverish pace. She did not care about the pain. It was truly going to be temporary. She needed to finish this today, so that tonight this could all be given to Jake and it could all be done. Her pain would be gone forever and some form of justice would be given to all of those people who died. A few tears trickled down her face as she thought about them again. The faces flew before her eyes. It was hard to see anything else, but she kept writing the code as she tried to see through the haunting and mangled faces of the ghosts of the dead. She was not sure if they were trying to thwart her work out of spite or if they were trying to get her to go faster so that she would join them faster to they could enact their revenge upon her. She did not care. She was almost done. At some point, the tears stopped and the spectral faces stopped, and she just coded. She was just a vessel through which her soul worked, not a person, just a mindless and empty vessel through which the code flowed. She finished every last line of code, and even had some time to do a code review. It was late, late into the night on the 7th day. She finished the code review and then made her last message in the holorecorder for her companions of their ship, the Cold Sun. Her last goodbye and apology to them for her failure.

The Last Night (day 7)

The last night was dark and the ship was quiet. She found some comfort and resolve in that. Victor and Skyyla were quietly sleeping, and X-23 was still rebooting and installing that ’98 patch update which has taken over a week with no direct end in sight, and Jake was left in charge of watching over the ship. He waited outside Kulae’s room as she had requested. Kulae looked upon the ship’s console which she had in the wall of her room. She initiated the protocol that would lock everyone’s rooms and only unlock them when this is all done. She then initiated the airlock routine too. The door to her room opened automatically as a part of that routine and Jake walked in. Kulae bawled as soon as she saw him. Tears streamed down her face as she jumped up and hugged Jake wishing that he could understand, wishing that he could forgive her, wishing that all of her companions and friends, her family here on the Cold Sun could forgive her for her absolute failure. She wished that Jake could hug her in the way that would really comfort her in this desperate time, and make all of the pain go away. He did what he could. He put his arm around her as he has seen other humans do in moments like this, not fully understanding what was going on with her, but only wanting to help her a best he could. His rifle was still in his hand like a permanent fixture of his chassis and hands, and extension of his being and will as an elite weapon of war.

After about 10 minutes of sobbing her breathing slowed and the tears finally stopped. She sat down on the bed and motioned for Jake to site as well. He did. She wiped away the tears and took a few moments to clear her voice. Her eyes were red and puffy from all of the crying.

My beloved Jake, I know you will not understand me now, but I promise you. I promise you, my rock, my apple pie, that you shall. Her eyes began to well up again when she said apple pie. This is something I need you to let me do. This is the only way to make things right, that their deaths can have any sort of justice or peace. It is the only way I can have peace. Everything is all set. All I have to do is to walk out there, open the door to the airlock, and everything will happen automatically. I will have peace. The dead of Coruscant will have peace. The doors are locked all around the ship and they will unlock once it is all done.

Jake sat there, rifle in hand, and listening intently for what he need to do to assist her or for some way to help fix her. Her emotional processor must be severely broken and needed a reboot or something. He knew humans could not do that, but that was the metaphor which helped him to make some sense of what she was experiencing. Her hands started to shake in fear even though she felt a sort of a solemn calm. Kulae walked slowly to her desk, paused for a long moment as she closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, then she looked at both items that were sitting there. Jake thought she looked rather out of place in the Cold Sun jumper suit she was wearing. She never wore those, and he thought that she looked very out of place in them. Kulae’s arm extended slowly, her hand shaking a little, as she limply pointed to the first item – a rather large data chip.

I have spent most of my free time since you rescued me on our home planet working on this as a gift for you. I hope that you will find a piece of me in this and some peace with my passing in what is contained here. I am hoping to show you how much your companionship has meant to me over these years. In this chip are not commands, but requests, my last requests and offers to you. Use it when you are ready. I hope that you will find what I have done is something that will move you and drive you to save the rebellion and the Cold Sun from the dark side, that will help you to understand me and how much you have meant to me over these years.

Kulae then pointed to the second item – her holorecorder.

This contains the last recording of my family that I have received on the day you saved me for the first time and we left our planet. It also contains my last message to the group which I have recently finished recording. Please make sure they hear both of these so that they will understand, and, hopefully, they can find some way to forgive me.

Do you understand? Can you allow me this peace? Can you do this for me, Jake?

Jake was confused at exactly what was happening. He understood that she meant to enter the airlock and then open it up to allow herself to die in vacuum of space, but it did not compute as to why or what function this would serve. He nodded only wanting to obey and to make her happy again. If this is what she wanted then this is what he would make sure would happen.

Tabula Rasa (day 7)

Jake stood up with a measured pace and walked over to Kulae and looked down at the chip and then to the holorecorder, and then back to her. He slowly picked up the chip and then looked back to her, not sure what to make of it or what she intended, but she trusted her, completely. From his utility belt he pulled out a small set of tools, and quickly, with practiced hands, opened up his chest plate.

Kulae said, a little worried “You, you do not have to do this now. This will draw a lot of power from the ship and may wake people up. Jake!!

He kept disengaging and unfastening the appropriate pieces, moving wires as needed, and then recessed the large chip into place. In a blur of motion, he reversed the process and closed up his chestplate.

Kulae stepped back a little. She could hear a humming sound coming from his chassis and various mechanical parts chirping a little. A small antenna popped out of his right shoulder, and then the lights from the ship clicked off and on a few times, Jake’s head sagged and his lights went out as if he had been deactivated. “Jake??” The lights flickered off and on several more times. She could hear the life support ventilation resetting and the ships’ red emergency lights came on drawing a dull crimson pallor over everything. Moments passed of this flickering and Jake did not move. “Jake??” she said a little louder. Long moments passed.

Kulae panicked and popped open his chest plate, attached her datapad to check his diagnostics, and it all seemed ok. She unplugged, stepped back and prayed that her work was done well. More long minutes passed and no response from Jake. By this time the flickering lights stopped although the emergency lights stayed on, and some of the computers seem to be losing their connection to the main communications bank and she could hear some light static from the Cold Sun’s comms panel.

Jake??” she whispered quietly, hoping that he could hear her. “Jake??” she said a little louder. She was so afraid that she failed again. Maybe she screwed up the programming. She did perform the last bits quickly and in a sleep and food deprived yet clear haze. What did she do wrong? ‘Oh, please, Jake! No!Not you too! Please say I did not kill you too.’ she said to herself. Her heart began to race. “Please, gods above, let me do this one thing right!!’ She just watched for any sign of life, and she prayed. How long could the process take. She really was not sure. She could only hope that what she had done was enough. It was a miracle the last time when she corrected the programming which originally freed Jake from the Rodian and made him sentient. She barely knew what she was doing then , but now she… who was she kidding! “JAAKE!!” she yelled.

She pounded and pounded on his chest piece with her fists trying to physically shock his systems until her fists became sore and bruised. “JAAAKE!! JAAKE!! JAAKE!!” she cried in desperation as she pulled out the butt of her blaster rifle and started to slam that into his chassis. Heavy tears started to trickle down her cheeks as she slammed the rifle as hard as she could over and over again screaming “Jaaaake!!!“. She was barely able to see through her tear-blinded eyes. She just dropped the rifle to the floor with a loud clang when her muscles were to tired and sore from many minutes of clanging on Jake’s chassis.

She quickly hooked up her datapad to Jake and there was no power to him at all. Nothing. “I failed. I failed again.” she whispered, the weight of losing her best friend heavy on her soul. Kulae collapsed to the ground sobbing. She said ‘Jake. Jake. Jake.’ over and over while rocking like a desperate and lost child. Tears of loss streamed down. She really did not care now. There was nothing else left for her here. Kulae cried and cried. She did not know for how long. All that mattered is that it seemed like an eternity in her own personal self-created hell. In that tear-drenched delirium of despair and anger she thought should could hear his voice. What a beautiful torture he mind was playing on her. If only that was to be true. If only…

All of a sudden she found herself being foisted up from the ground by big metal arms and then she received the biggest, most human hug she had ever received. She could tell by the glow of the light reflecting onto his chassis that the color of the lights on Jake’s chassis and eyes had changed. She did not care. She just cried and cried and just melted into the embrace. She heard what could be identified as a whisper from Jake “I understand.” She cried even harder for many, many minutes while Jake just held her.

Chastising him she said “You stubborn metal bastard, you should have waited.” She shook her head as they separated. “You are going to feel funny for a while and then things will start to change. Your lights have changed color too, which I did not expect. I think you will be all right.

Into Eternity (day 7)

She turned and looked at the door for a few moments and then looked back at Jake still standing near the desk who was still processing while watching her. She smiled faintly and slowly walked out the door of her room. When she left the room Jake followed her, his metal foots steps a like a heavy echo behind her. She walked slowly through the ship towards the airlock, memories of her time with Skyyla, Victor, X-23 and Jake lazily danced in her mind: watching Victor and Jake work on the hyperdrive engine and listening to Victor curse; watching Skyyla look at the astrogation charts and galaxy maps talking about some of the interesting places she has been or pointing out interesting stop-over points for their trips; X-23’s complete lack of bedside manner, but yet perfectly professional manner while patching her up like a true pro. She remembered the feeling of abject fear as they performed a gravity assisted hot drop into Volgurt IV. The adrenaline rush from that lasted three days and she was not sure if she would ever recover from that. It was all so clear in her mind, vivid like it all happened yesterday. They were all more family to her than her real family, even the distant X-23. She knew she could count on him to be there and to fix her up again. She felt safe here with them and also felt appreciated.

Her hands started to tremble and her breathing quickened as she arrived at the door to the airlock. She was afraid, but still calm. She could feel the adrenaline coursing through her as her mind forcefully overcame her fight or flight instincts, but the adrenaline would not stop and her heart raced. She could hear that Jake was right behind her. When he stopped she turned around to look at him and then she looked back to the door. This was it. She walked over to him and hugged him one last time.

She closed her eyes and breathed in a deep breath and then said “Thank you for everything, my friend.“. She took a good long look at Jake as they separated so that she would always remember him. Kulae shifted slightly to the side of him, put her hand up on his cold metallic shoulder, took another deep breath and then looked at the airlock control panel. Jake looked at her, analyzed her movements, and her facial expression. He nodded affirmatively.

She hoped that this moment with Jake opening the door for her could help to absolve her of some guilt and fear, to help confirm that she was doing the right thing. Jake looked from her to the airlock control panel, then pressed the button. The airlock door hissed open. He looked at her and realized that was going to be the last time he was going to see her. He could feel a change in his neural pathways that he had never experienced before. After a few long moments of him looking at her, he looked back to his highly customized rifle which was still in his hand, but, at this moment felt strangely alien to him. He gently handed her it to her. Kulae smiled as a glistening trail of tears meandered down her cheeks as she thought that he may have started to really understand, in some way, what she wanted, which gave her some sort of comfort in what she was doing. She turned around and walked into the airlock. The door hissed shut behind her as she turned to face Jake for the last time. He looked at her. Kulae held back the fear as the tears streamed down her face, her heart raced. She waved a weak final goodbye to Jake and awaited for justice and the end to come.

A Cruel Twist of Fate (day 7)

Right as the airlock door shut Jake’s head cocked to the side as if he was listening to something. A small antennae popped out of his shoulder and then turned to face behind him. Kulae watched Jake as she listened to the airlock timer count down from 10 and she also listened to the automated warning that proper space suits must be worn inside an airlock to protect against the dangers of complete depressurization. These did not faze her. She just watched Jake in her last moments. She wanted her friend, Jake, to be her last thought and memory before justice was done and the pain was gone.

Jake’s comm sensors barely picked up staticky stream of angry communications from R2-DH. It took Jake a few moments to clean up the channel so he could pick out something sensible. When he did he heard R2-Dh raging about the complete disarray of the ship’s systems and requesting assistance in fixing it. He also mentioned a priority holo-message that needed to be delivered for at least the last 20 minutes, but the ship’s comms have been down and NO ONE WAS ANSWERING. Jake had never heard R2-DH this angry before. Jake shifted his focus and looked to Kulae for the last time and heard the countdown continue ‘5..4..”

Jake responded to R2-DH who sent some rather specific droid based expletives his way, then it sent a long list of areas where Jake could assist. Finally, it started to relay the holo-message to him, although it was going to take a little to force it through the static flooding the ship’s communications. A moment passed and Jake received it and began to view it internally. His head snapped up, eyes focused on Kulae. The countdown continued on ‘..1’.

Faster than she had ever seen him move, Jake’s hand slammed the airlock control, shattering it. She saw pieces of it flying across her view of the airlock door as its angry red maintenance light popped on. In a seeming protest to its rough treatment it angrily hissed opened as Jake yanked her like a ragdoll from the airlock by her arm, leaving a large bruise around her arm. The door started to close just as the external airlock opened. They could feel the slight venting of the internal atmosphere through the airlock to the outside as the door quickly shut. Kulae just stared at him, her face was red with anger and surprise. She was a fool for believing that he understood. She felt betrayed. She really thought he understood. She really, really thought he understood.

Jake concentrated a few moments prepping the holo-message for transfer and then he tapped the buttons on the holorecorder to set it up as a relay for the holo-message from his internal storage. After a moment the holorecorder played a new message which was from Captain Lynch. His upper torso and head appeared ephemeral in the air above the holorecorder. His face was calm, yet belied arrogance with an air of confident command and veiled disdain as he began to speak:

Can’t say your plan wasn’t a good one, but your small seismic charge would have done very little to that landing pad. Thought you could use something bigger. ” Captain Lynch smirked and then the message faded out.

Kulae never knew rage like this before. Her face was hot with anger. The veins on her forehead were pulsing in time with her heartbeat. Her fists were white from clenching them so hard she couldn’t even feel them now.

I will kill that frakking bantha stain myself if it is the last thing I do. There WILL be justice for the 45,000 innocent people HE murdered. Mark my words, Jake. Mark my frakking words.

She stomped off towards her room, her thudding steps echoed through the corridor as Victor and Skyyla hurried down the corridor towards her wondering what the hell was going on and why were the emergency lights were on and static was coming through the ship’s comms.

My First NaNoWriMo Experience (NaNoWriMo 2013)

I have participated in my first ever National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November and it was a hell of an experience. Out of 312, no rx 866 people signed up for it worldwide only about 40, buy 000 or so succeeded. As one of the 40k+ I can count myself as one of the 2013 NaNoWriMo winners (winner means having submited your novel and had it validated at 50k+ words). On the early afternoon of Friday, online Nov 29th, I submitted my incomplete science fiction novel, The Veritus Engagement, for word count and it came back at 50, 309 words. Praise be to the gods that I was able to finish. There were moments when I was not sure.

I have to thank my wonderful wife who was more than understanding and allowed me to make time for writing in order for me to participate. Did I mention that my wife was awesome? If I have not said that before let me state this now – My wife roxors my boxors! For reals!!

The Veritus Engagement (overview)

Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved limited space travel and has colonized some of the planets in our solar system, the United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of a reignited war with the aliens, and competitive corporations vying to monopolize precious resources throughout the solar system.

The Veritus Engagement follows an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens, in which Kuulgan while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.

The Preparation

I spent a good portion of September and October planning the writing in MS One Note, which rocks as software. If you have not tried and you are a writer or Dungeon Master, please give it a try I started with a one sentence synopsis, then a 6 sentence synopsis, and then I jumped into writing chapter synopsi using the 5 act plot arrangement with 5 chapters per section @ 2,000 words per chapter. Now, having an even number of chapters per act is not the preferred way to go as I understand, but that is what I went with in order to keep it simple, especially since this was my first time ever attempting anything like this – NaNoWriMo or writing a book. Each chapter synopsis was 3-4 sentences long stating what I was expecting to accomplish during that chapter, and, on occasion, there were also a smattering of bullet points too. I also worked on putting together some character information as I went and was thinking about the plot and needed supporting characters. I spent most time on the protagonist, an alien Named Kuulgan, and his supporting characters, of which there were a total of 14. I also spent a little time on the setting, technology, and history that was needed to support and make sense of what was going on. I even setup Scrivener, my writing tool of choice, with the chapters and 4 scenes per chapter.

The Month of Writing

November 1st came really fast and landed on a Friday. On that Friday I made my 2500 word quota and I was surprised with this and I thought that, with my first 2500 words completed, that I might just be able to this.  The first week of writing went fast and furious. I kept to my daily quote quite easily. Although as we jumped into week 2 I was finding that the 5 chapters about diplomacy that were spread around the book were only going to be about 500 words, so I knew I was going to have to make up for it somewhere. This amounted to about 7500 words of extra writing I was going to have to figure out. Fortunately, a few chapters sprung up that were at least a 1000 words over so I was fairly confident that I was going to be able to get it done. Week 2 was a little slower, but I kept pace pretty well. I used the weekend to get myself ahead by a little over 1300 words. Week 3 was tough. Some of the chapters were coming out, writers block seemed like it was going to be a problem. I had some setting issues that I had not figured out yet, and eventually said the hell with it. Just write and I will figure out the specifics later. I struggled that weekend to get myself caught up but, I was able to. By this time I was not ahead, only just keeping up. I even had to create another chapter with some background writing to fill up the writers block I was having. I was only keeping up, which was good enough for me. Week 4 was the week of Thanksgiving and I had no idea how this was going to work, plus at work my PC was upgraded to Windows 7 which was an all day affair, so I missed an entire day worth of writing, but fortunately I had Thursday and Friday off and was able to easily take the late nights if needed. At this time I also realized the way I budgeted my time I did not compensate for the extra 2 days of the month. I did the math based off of 4 weeks at 5 days a week, so I had extra time if needed, and, fortunately, I kept pace and finished on Friday, just like planned. I was soo happy that I finished. I was glad to finally be done and have conquered this beast. The NaNoWriMo Beast! I think that ding sound means I made it to second level! Squee!

The Experience

I was glad to be done with NaNo. It is not that I did not enjoy it, since i really did enjoy the experience. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is an incredible challenge with a full time job, wife, kid, and a business to manage. I learned that what you plot out and plan to take up a complete chapter worth of words may not actually end that way. I learned that even if you have everything planned out well that writers block may decide that you need more of a challenge. I learned that as you are writing that the writing may take on a life of its own and take you somewhere that you had not planned or it will reveal to you something about your book that you had not realized. I learned that Warrant Officer Giovanni did not like the sound of vibro weapons. The last combat that I had writing turned out nothing like I was intending – no one died. =( I am not sure who is boss here me or the book. =O

What Now?

Currently, I am working on what I hope will be an 7 book fantasy series based on a character and character history from a Dungeons and Dragon’s Second Edition game that played in the 1990’s during my time in the Navy. This was a single player game  that someone else DM’ed for me while we were on our 6 month cruise in the Mediteranean. I am currently in the process of plotting it out and workin on history. The series will be based on the character history titled ‘Of Books and Blades‘ (see link below) and the first book was going to basically be a large rewriting of this short story. I have since come to find out that I have almost completely abandoned this. The only part that is kept is that Jaerle and Kari and the rest is completely jettisoned. I am having the most problem figuring out the plot for this first book. Books 2-5 are fitting together pretty well. 6 and 7 are still a work in process I think either I will get the basic plot for book one done first, or book one’s plot may not happen until the plot for the last two books  are fitting. We shall see.

Wish me luck!

NaNoWriMo (3 Days and Counting)

DDP Yoga LogoThis post is written as a break off from my previous post about Tanya and Uliana being in Belarus. I wanted to separate the DDP stuff into another post, read more so here we go:

First let me tell what DDP yoga is:

About DDP Yoga

DDP Yoga came into being after DDP , sick the professional wrestler named Diamond Dallas Page, eczema  messed up his body while wrestling. The doctors told him he would never wrestle again. He was desperate and would try anything to get back into the ring. His wife was doing yoga at the time and recommended that he give that a try. He was desperate so he tried it, and within 3 weeks he was back to training for wrestling  With his seemingly miraculous return to wresting he worked with a chiropractor who specializes sports extremity medicine affectionately named the ‘Yoga Doc’ , who is also a Power Yoga instructor, to create a workout that integrates Power Yoga, rehabilitation techniques, and dynamic tension to create low impact yoga based workout that delivers cardio and strength training too. He has championed it among his wrestling buddies and many are doing DDP Yoga as a part of their training regiment.

“It ain’t your mamma’s yoga!!”

How It Started

So, why did I start looking into DDP yoga?  Well, it all started when a rep from the Madison Mallards called me to let me know that DDP was going to be at a Mallards game some time in June and will be teaching a class after the game. He wanted to see if our studio wanted to arrange for a group outing for the game and DDP’s class. This, of course, had me thinking DDP?  Yoga?? What the hell is going on here? I spent some time researching it and it looked legit.

In doing some research on this I found  the inspirational story of Arthur Boorman‘s transformation using DDP Yoga, which was amazing. Eventually I bought his book Yoga for Regular Guys (YRG). After reading the YRG book I took a better look at DDPYoga.com and I really liked what I saw. Last Thursday I made the jump by purchasing the Max Combo pack, and then the fun began.

Why I made the Jump

As most of you know, my wife and I have a yoga studio, and she teaches there as the primary instructor teaching about 13 classes per week. I have been taking Yoga with her on and off, depending on babysitting, for about 3 years or so, which has been great for my back and neck. I will also say the Tanya is an awesome instructor.

I have wanted to become a yoga teacher for a few years now, but this is difficult because of babysitting, time (~1 month) and money (~$3,500). The 2 paths I have considered are Power Yoga and Yoga Therapist. I first considered Power Yoga since that would appeal to guys more and it is a great workout for muscle building and weight loss. I definitely need a little bit of both of those, but the possible intensity of workouts sorta scared me. =O I found a more important Yoga focus, since in the last year or so I have been battling with RSI (repetitive strain injury), which is the precursor for carpal tunnel syndrome, and it came to the point where I was concerned about having to quit my job. I decided that if I were to get certified I would pick a therapeutic focus and I found that Yoga Therapy was a possibility, more specifically I found out about the Integrative Yoga Therapist certification which also includes diet and Ayurveda too. I am a strong proponent of ‘fix your freaking diet’ as my friends and family well know. Again, this also takes time and money which we do not have at this time.

Now, DDP Yoga is a nice mixture of both Power Yoga and Yoga for a therapeutic end, and they also recommend good dietary changes too. They recently released the first part of  a certification path which only costs $500 and you can do it at home. If I am able to survive DDP Yoga and benefit from it, especially at the upper levels, I may look into getting certified and then I may run classes in the morning as a sort of a boot camp, but that is in the future and assumes much. We shall see if that shall come to pass.

DDP Yoga Poster

Read More

Here are some links about it in case you get curious:

OK, sick
everyone there are 3 days and counting before National Writing Month (NaNoWrimo) which runs all through the month of November. It is coming… brace yourself!!

I do not have as much prepared as I would like, and I am not sure if the chapter synopsi that I have prepared will work well enough for me to be able to actually write each chapters with 2500 words. We shall see. This is my first attempt at something like this so it will be a huge learning experience.

Attempting to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

OK everyone…. I am going to attempt to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which is all through the month of the November (Nov 1 -30). The challenge is to write a 50k word novel in one month. I think 50k words is technically classified as a novella, visit this site but whose counting anyhow? Not a fully edited one, case of course, just a rough draft. I have no idea if I can accomplish this, but I am going to try. I have a Google+ Community setup for those who wish to assist me in this craziness. If you would like to look up the community titled: FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo GP – the Vertitus Engagement, or you can find a link below

FX’s 2013 NaNoWriMo Entry
Genre Sci Fi
Title The Veritus Engagement
Cover Summary Kuulgan, and alien from another galaxy and a former member of their alien military, while assisting an elite human military organization, must wade through racial tensions and gun fire to help stop radical alien insurrectionists from reigniting war between the humans and the aliens.
Setting Set over a hundred years in the Earth’s possible future where a semi-united Earth has achieved  limited space travel and is colonizing the planets in our solar system. The United Alliance of Interstellar Earth (UAIE) is mired in seceded corporate space colony politics, the threat of reigniting war with the aliens, competitive corporations vying for the next great technological advancements that can take our species beyond our system, and monopolize precious resources, tries to keep the peace with an elite off-the-record paramilitary group, called the Wardens.

Humans have encountered one sentient alien species which has traveled to our system resulting in a decades long war, but finally ended in a tense detente with the aliens colonizing the he periphery of our system. An eventual agreement allowed some cross immigration for both humans and aliens.

Are You Still Bored? – the Archives

I have aggregated 2 other “Are you still bored?” posts (original, approved part II) and the 3rd I was in the process of putting together so you do not have to look around for them and their associated links.

Let me guess. You are Bored. Let boredom bother you no longer with these educational courses available. If you find yourself saying that you are bored or overhear someone say that they are, physiotherapist slap them, patient and then point them henceforth:

Are you still Bored?

 
I have aggregated 2 other “Are you still bored?” posts (original, pill
 part II) and the 3rd I was in the process of putting together so you do not have to look around for them and their associated links.

You can find them here on this new page: Are You Bored?

 

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Ricky Gervais’ Sesame Street Lullaby

For all of you out there that are having a problem sleeping give Ricky Gervais’ Sesame Street Lullaby brought to you by the letter ‘N’ a try. I blame this completely on my 2 year old little girl.